The potential for religious conflict in the United States Military

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Authors
Freeman, Jeffrey B.
Subjects
Advisors
Simons, Anna
Date of Issue
2005-12
Date
Publisher
Monterey, CA; Naval Postgraduate School
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Abstract
The 2004 presidential election seemed to signal growing religious fervor across the political spectrum. Members of the media and pollsters alike were left wondering what went on inside the voting booth. Religion has long played a role in American politics, dating back to the Constitution of the United States of America. When components of government, the military, religion, and society converge, discussion and debate invariably follows. The United States military is a religiously pluralistic institution, with members belonging to an estimated 700 religions. The chaplaincy champions religious accommodation and the military itself supports over 245 faith groups. The chaplaincy is at the core of this religious accommodation since chaplains maintain a dual allegiance, as members of the clergy and as members of the officer corps. As religious diversity grows, the likelihood of controversy increases when, for instance, Indian members of the Native American Church take peyote, Wiccans observe pagan rites on military bases, and Muslim chaplains serve Muslim soldiers who find themselves at war within an Islamic country. This thesis explores some of the challenges inherent in ministering to so many diverse religions, and takes a critical look at areas of potential friction that might cause the Department of Defense to want to take a more attentive look at what such diversity means for the future.
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Thesis
Description
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Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
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Format
xiv, 93 p. : ill. ;
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Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
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